Candles are one of the oldest forms of indoor illumination. They have persisted over the course of several millennia, despite the changes which have been experienced by the candle-making industry throughout history. Some of the earliest forms of candles were made from boiled down tallow or fat, which was usually obtained from the carcasses of slaughtered livestock and animals like whales in certain regions of the world. In some other areas, thousands of years ago, candles were made by rolling up insects in paper and lighting them up. However, there are so many other reasons why candles are so fascinating.
WHY ARE CANDLES SO FASCINATING?
Candles are very fascinating objects. As a matter of fact, they have a reputation for being fascinating. This is largely due to several factors and properties of candles such as the sheer variety of types of candles and the different kinds of materials available for suitable use in making candle wax (and even candle wicks). Basically, the reasons why candles are so fascinating may include the following:
- Candles are very old
Candles are very old and they have existed for a very long time. In fact, nobody actually knows exactly when or where candles were first invented or even by whom. Details such as the name of the inventor of candles and the exact period wherein they were first created have long been lost among the sands of time. Yet, the knowledge that has existed by virtue of the invention of candles thousands of years ago continues to abide even to this day and age.
When we begin to examine the history of candles, a few things become apparent, one of which is the ability of candles to evolve and adapt according to the times. Even when we examine the different kinds of candles and their popularity in ancient times within certain areas of the world and places, we see that right from time, candles have always been made through innovative thinking, by means of utilizing available materials around. This is why certain parts of the world started out with earlier versions of candles made of tallow while others made do with insect bodies rolled up in paper. Also, when we see the adaptability of candles in the manner in which they continued to persist after the large boom of paraffin wax candles towards the end of the 19th century; following which the art of candle-making as a guild-craft began to face a rapid decline, as paraffin wax candles were easier to make factories – using machines – compared to tallow candles, and candle-makers were better able to produce them (paraffin wax candles) en masse compared to tallow candles. Also, we see it in the way candles continued to remain relevant even after the innovation of the electric light bulb; a phenomenon which shifted the demand for indoor illumination from candles to electricity.
- Candles come in various types
Another reason why candles are so fascinating is the fact that they come in various types and forms. Although, candles are usually molded and formed in a cylindrical shape, they may have different kinds of patterns and designs depending on the types and etchings of the mold used to form their shapes. Also, it is noteworthy that the cylindrical shape of candles isn’t just a design quirk; candles are usually shaped this way because this shape supports the ability of candles to burn well. Candles that are usually molded in other types of shapes may not burn well.
Types of candles may occur in different categories or classifications. Based on color or the deliberate addition of dyes and coloring agents to melted candle wax during the candle making process, candles can be divided into white candles and colored candles. White candles are usually candles to which no additional dye or coloring agent has been added, while colored candles contain coloring agents and dyes…or at least, this is the generally assumed definition used to show the differences between white candles and colored candles. In actuality, or at least in more precise terms, the raw forms of some kind of candle-waxes – e.g. tallow wax and beeswax – are not usually white in color and this is why many white candles tend to contain white dyes or chemicals which serve as bleaches or bleaching agents to turn the candle wax white.
Other categories of candles include scented candles and unscented candles. Scented candles are candles to which fragrances and aromas have been deliberately added in form of perfumes, while unscented candles usually give off no aroma or scent.
- Candles have various uses
Gone are the days where candles have only one major use, which used to be indoor illumination. Nowadays, one of the most common use of candles occurs in the areas of meditation and aromatherapy. Scented candles in particular don’t just provide light for indoor illumination, they also provide fragrances and aromas, mostly derived from plant extracts and natural oils, which help to provide a calming effect when (their fragrance is) inhaled. In recent times, the growing popularity of candles can mostly be attributed to the innovation of scented candles and their increasing demand globally.
- Candles have a steady demand
The global demand of candles may have taken a major hit with the invention of the electric light bulb at the end of the 19th century but times have turned. These days, candle-makers are collectively pulling in billions of dollars every year, mainly due to the increasing demand of scented candles across the world. However, one interesting thing worthy of note is the fact that even at the lowest point in the history of candle demand – before scented candles started becoming so popular, and when people had already begun to be so dependent on electricity for indoor illumination (by means of the electric bulb) – candle makers across the world were still collectively raking in a ton of money annually. This is because there are still a lot of regions in the world experiencing erratic electricity and power supply, and so the people in these kinds of places still tend to depend on other older sources of indoor illumination such as candles for their lighting needs.